She Leads Africa interviewed Cofounder and CEO of MBA Mama, Divinity Matovu. As a mother of two, she is pursuing her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on entrepreneurial management and finance. She has launched four start-ups, lived and worked in East Africa and prides herself on being a global citizen and an advocate for women’s empowerment. This is what she had to say about navigating family and career planning as an MBA Mama.
“The biggest barrier for women with children interested in pursuing their MBA, women in business is: childcare. Many women find themselves saying: Oh, I have a child, I’m not going to be able to keep up. What will I do about childcare? Will I have any money going in? If we can develop something that helps women to save time and money on childcare, it becomes much easier to have a conversation and for them to continue advancing in their careers. You don’t want highly educated, highly qualified, and highly trained women dropping out of the workforce.
Our brand, MBA Mama, makes visible: women who successfully maintain their careers after maternity leave and even women who have children during the MBA. We are an online platform that provides ambitious women with tools and resources to leverage an MBA, and strategically navigate family and career planning.
Because of the childcare issues, there are a lot of women who are not at the table to lean in. That is not good for our economy or for business. We want to help women navigate having a child during their post MBA career so that they don’t fall behind their male peers, and so that they don’t feel like they have to drop out of the work force.
From our perspective, an MBA is a great degree that women should leverage to have career advancement. Firstly, an MBA is a graduate degree with the highest return on investment. During the MBA program, you can gain a set of skills that are transferable to any industry and add value to any career. An MBA can increase your access to an excellent network. Lastly, the types of careers available post MBA have wonderful benefits.”
Whether you’re a mother, a woman who is passionate about going back to school, a woman interested in starting a family or all of the above, Divinity provides you with these useful tips.
Here’s her top three tips for a successful family planning during the MBA:
1. Timing is crucial
There are quite a few women who are timing their ovulation cycle when pursuing their MBA. They work with their partners to make sure that they will be pregnant when they want to be pregnant. These women give birth during the winter break, which is 3-4 weeks.
They come back that next semester, and for most of them, they are only taking classes maybe two days a week. There are also women who work to have children the summer before they start full-time work, and after they graduate.
2. Maintain consistent family time
When I’m with my daughter, I’m with my daughter. I’m unplugged and not checking emails or on social media. My philosophy is: quality of our time together as opposed to quantity.
Even though I’m really busy, that really helps us to maximize our time. So, figure out what time works best for you. Mornings are really good for us because we’re up and about and getting ready together.
3. Prepare for the week
I do meal preps on Sunday. So, I cook many meals on Sunday and then I’ll Tupperware everything into portions so that throughout the first three days of the week I have all of my meals ready to go.
We do take out Thursdays, so I know I don’t have to cook dinner that day. Fridays and Saturdays are easy, because I don’t have class. Sunday, I start my meal prep again.
On her four tips on successful business planning:
1. Create your own brand
I am an MBA Mama, and I see myself in my consumers. I’m investing time in the community and I hope that leads people to our brand. I launched the company and was very excited to get my partner Nicole on board.
That was a challenge because I had to make sure that my vision was clear, and that I could get someone else to buy into the idea.
2. Gain Financial Skills
Finance is central to any business operation. You can have a great brand and people can be excited about what you’re doing, but if you don’t know how to manage the money, if you don’t know how to read a balance sheet, and if you don’t know how to get your finances in order—nothing else really matters.
3. If you want to build an online community, communicate and be engaged
Be engaged with your online community—whether that’s responding to a tweet or re-tweeting someone mentioning your brand, communicating with fans on Instagram or featuring people on your blog.
By staying connected, people know that you actually see enough value in what they have to say.
4. Utilize Social Media!
Finally, any of word-of-mouth that can help your business will be good for your brand. People love referrals because it’s a trusted source and it’s even more trusted than paid advertisements. Through our blogs people find us, and the women we feature also spread the word to their followers.
Also, we feature women who share their stories through our “MBA Mama of The Month Initiative.” If someone can recommend your brand by word-of-mouth, that’s really the best way.